OSPE celebrates International Women in Engineering Day #INWED17

Around the world, June 23rd marks International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). Initiated in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) in the United Kingdom to celebrate its 95th anniversary, INWED is now an international awareness day that focuses on the amazing careers, technical roles, and achievements of girls and women in engineering.

INWED highlights positive role models to inspire future and current generations to achieve their full potential – all of which align with the mandate of OSPE’s Women in Engineering Advocacy Committee (WEAC).

OSPE’s Women in Engineering Advocacy Committee (WEAC)

WEAC works toward the creation of a more progressive and diverse engineering profession by encouraging the full participation of women in the engineering profession at all stages of their careers.

Through submissions to government, including the province’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering CommitteePremier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy Expert Panel, and support for Bill C-243 The National Maternity Assistance Program, OSPE raises awareness about issues facing women in engineering. In addition, WEAC prepares frequent communications pieces that showcase women in engineering, such as on International Women’s Day and the Global Day of the Engineer.

Today, we recognize the contributions that women in engineering make to society by featuring mentors in OSPE’s pilot mentorship program who have participated in the Society’s #AnEngineerWasHere public awareness campaign.

To explore the challenges facing women in engineering, WEAC’s current Chair and two professional engineers who serve as mentors in the Pilot Mentorship Program, have shared a bit about their professional experiences:

Jennifer Bolibruch, P.Eng.
Bolibruch

Jennifer has been a process/chemical engineer for seven years, and is currently working at Lafarge as a Depot Manager. She has taken on many roles in the company from process improvement projects, to designing concrete mixes, to managerial positions.

As a woman in engineering, have you employed any strategies to overcome challenges or barriers in the workplace?  

My advice would be to not shy away from seeking out advice from people you trust when you need help – essentially, finding a mentor. I was fortunate to have many supportive mentors in my career that helped me overcome challenges.

Why is it important for you to give back to the engineering profession as a mentor?

Having established myself in my career, I felt that it was time I contributed to something important to me. I’ve watched many talented women begin their engineering careers only to find themselves frustrated with their work environment and leave the profession. I realized I could use my own experiences to help guide them in the hopes that they continue to grow in their careers. Having women engineers at the boardroom table benefits the whole profession. In order to serve all members of our society, its practitioners should be a true reflection of its diversity.

Lisa Nicol, P.Eng.
Nicol

Lisa has been working as a structural engineer for over 16 years and is a partner at John G. Cooke & Associates Ltd. Consulting Engineers in Ottawa. Lisa is currently working on a rehabilitation project to restore the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa (pictured here).

As a woman in engineering, have you employed any strategies to overcome challenges or barriers in the workplace?

As a woman in engineering, my top strategies for overcoming challenges or barriers in the workplace are:

Let your work speak for itself. It absolutely will over time. But also, don’t be afraid to let others know about your accomplishments – in my experience, men seem to have an easier time with this than women. Put yourself out there.

 

Engineering is a demanding job at times, especially on construction projects. And being a mom is also incredibly demanding. Flexible work hours, the option to work from home and a great project team at the office are all key ways your employer can facilitate your best work. And if your employer doesn’t advertise these options, ask for what you want. Propose something on a trial basis. See what you can negotiate. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

When you enjoy what you do, your mindset is geared towards finding solutions and breaking down barriers. It reduces the overall negative impact that bad experiences have on you. You can shake them off easier. And always reflect on and learn from the difficult situations, clients and projects. You’ll be even better for it in the future.

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Shelly Deitner, P.Eng.
Deitner

Shelly Deitner, P.Eng., pictured with enthusiastic attendees – both mentors and protégées – during the Making Connections Mentorship event held in Waterloo on May 27th and organized by OSPE and PEO’s Grand River Chapter.

Shelly, who has over 15 years of project management experience in environmental remediation, is a civil engineer with GHD Limited. Shelly is a Director on OSPE’s Board and is the Chair of WEAC.

As a woman in engineering, have you employed any strategies to overcome challenges or barriers in the workplace?

I have benefited from having several mentors throughout my career (both male and female), particularly in the early stages, when it’s critical to have guides to help navigate the challenges and barriers one may encounter. Early on in my career, I spent time networking and building connections with like-minded individuals in professional organizations such as OSPE’s WEAC and the Society of Women Engineers. Being involved in these organizations and serving in leadership roles allowed me to find mentors and get resources specific to women in engineering.

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Milestones like INWED provide Ontario’s engineers, alongside the international engineering community, with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of diversity—in a number of senses—within the engineering profession and what role various stakeholders can play to ensure that anyone seeking a career in engineering can pursue their professional goals and reach their full potential. Are you unfamiliar with the services and resources OSPE offers? Visit our website to find out how an OSPE membership can benefit you!

 

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